Uomo Vitruviano-1-

The word human commonly refers to the species Homo sapiens, a bipedal primate. DNA and fossil evidence indicates that modern humans originated in east Africa about 200,000 years ago. When compared to other animals and primates, humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection and problem solving. This mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage that frees the forelimbs (arms) for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other species. Humans are distributed worldwide, with significant populations inhabiting most land areas of Earth.

Homo sapiens are the only extant member of the Homo genus currently in existence. Other species are extinct. It is sometimes the practice to apply the term "human" to extinct groups such as Homo neanderthalensis and Homo erectus.

Literary comment[]

In most Harry Turtledove timelines, Homo sapiens is the only sentient species in existence. This article deals only with timelines where other sentient species co-exist, or where Homo sapiens is dramatically different from the OTL version. It is also presumed that all readers of this wiki are human.

Human in Crosstime Traffic[]

Crosstime Traffic was aware of several alternates in which humans had never evolved. In others, they were still hunter-gatherers in the late 21st century. In others in which there was a nuclear war in the 20th century, humanity was extinct.

Human in A Different Flesh[]

Humans' encounter with sims caused them to reevaluate their own status in the natural world. In 1661, Samuel Pepys' observations on the similarity between humans and sims caused him to develop the transformational theory of life, suggesting that the two groups had a common ancestor, although they were by no means on an equal level of intelligence and capacity.

Despite having an obviously superior level of being, humans still considered it acceptable for one group of their own kind to enslave another. This changed in 1805, when a clever American lawyer named Alfred Douglas brought the specific differences between the two species to the attention of a Virginia court. Presenting a positive intelligence test demonstrated by his client, a black man named Jeremiah, he demonstrated that Jeremiah was just as intelligent as any other kind of human, in stark contrast to sims, who could never have the capacity to reach that level. This legal proof that humanity had an "other" with which to compare itself, began the end of human slavery and contributed to the union of the species.

In the late 20th century, a history written by Ernest Simpson hypothesized that without sims, humanity might never have discovered these basic biological truths, and remained unaware of its full potential within the animal kingdom.

Human in "Down in the Bottomlands"[]

Highheads had always lived in the southern portions of the Great Continent, predominantly in the Principality of Lissonland, Duvai and the Krepalgan Unity.

Human in Earthgrip[]

Around 25,000 BC, aliens from the Foitani Empire visited Earth. The Foitani were a race that methodically practiced genocide upon lesser advanced peoples who were in their way. Operating in this mindset, they determined that primitive humans might evolve into a dangerous rival to them. As such, they invented a plague weapon which failed to eradicate humanity, instead becoming known as the common cold. The Foitani also collected biological specimens from Earth, including a primitive man and woman.

Shortly after the failure of their plan of Terran genocide, the Foitani Empire self-destructed from the Suicide Wars. In the meantime, humans spread beyond the limits of Earth to colonize various planets including Saugus, becoming the technological equals of what remained of Foitani civilization.

Humans had made contact with numerous other alien races as well.

Human in "Hoxbomb"[]

Humans became a star-faring race. During their explorations, they discovered the planet Lacanth C. The planet was simultaneously discovered by the Snarre't. As war between both races would lead to mutually assured to destruction, they decided to rule the planet via condominium. About 150 years later, cities on the planet did quite well, providing places for both species to interact as equals, even though neither species particularly like the other.[1]

Human in "The Horse of Bronze"[]

See Lapiths (The Horse of Bronze)

Human in "No Period"[]

A Jewish-American writer contemplated his failed first marriage, and wondered if it might have worked in some alternate timeline. After considering and discarding a number of possibilities, he considered imagined a world where Homo sapiens hadn't made their way into Europe and wiped out Neanderthal. He again concluded that his ex-wife's Neanderthal analog and his analog would have had the same fights. At this point, the writer realized how silly this was, since he was perfectly happy with his second wife in a marriage that had worked for forty years, but his inability to accept that he'd done anything wrong led him to one last thought-experiment.[2]

Human in "None So Blind"[]

Humans evolved from small shrew-like beasts after the extinction of the large reptiles which had previously ruled the world. Few knew that this shift in ecological hierarchy was caused by an unwitting benefactor whose next waking action would not be so agreeable to the same species.

Human in Noninterference[]

On occasion, the Federacy's Survey Service discovered planets whose indigenous sentient life were largely similar to humans. A case in point was Bilbeis IV, whose people differed from humans only in matters of skin- and hair-color, and other subtle differences. This made undercover anthropology very easy.

Human in "Speaker to Emos"[]

The majority of humans were prone to punctuality, inflexibility in personal habits, had a limited ability to understand nonverbal cues, were uncomfortable with overt displays of emotionalism, and tended towards scrupulous honesty. They preferred reason and logic to feeling.

Approximately one percent of the human population was diagnosed with von Mellenthin's Syndrome, a syndrome marked by emotionalism, less-detail oriented thinking, and a comparative lack of sincerity. These people, also called "emos", had a difficult time as a minority, and it was only in the last half of the 20th century that their condition was identified, much less understood.[3]

Human in State of Jefferson[]

Humans were known as little people to the sasquatches of Jefferson and nearby regions. The two species were closely related enough that they often interbred.

Buildings in the state were most often geared toward little people, until the Jefferson Equal Accommodations Act of the 1970s.

Human in Worldwar[]

Tosevite was the formal name for the inhabitants of the planet Tosev 3 (i.e., Earth) in the language of the Race. They also referred to humans by the slang term Big Uglies.

Tosevites were unique among the galaxy's four known sentient species in a number of ways. They were not reptilian but mammalian; mammals were unheard of on Home, Rabotev 2, and Halless 1. They were viviparous rather than oviparous. They were sexually active all year round. They formed permanent family groups and kept track of consanguinity, even allowing familial roles to surpass the role of friendship in cultural importance. Their cultures developed very quickly, and they were comfortable with noticeable technological progress within a period of just a few years. Most importantly, large segments of the human population were able to fend off the Race's efforts to conquer Tosev 3. Worse still, by the 2030s, certain human populations had surpassed the Race technologically, becoming the first non-Race species to visit Home in starships of their own making using faster-than-light technology.

Humans were also physically bigger and generally more powerful than members of the Race despite their lack of sharp teeth and claws. Humans trained in various physical combats and martial arts could match Race agility and overpower them with skilled punches and kicks.

See also[]

  • Erthumoi, for humans in the Isaac's Universe stories.


  1. See, e.g., We Install and Other Stories, loc. 835, book.
  2. https://www.tor.com/2020/11/30/no-period-harry-turtledove/
  3. Asimov's Science Fiction, July/August, 2019.